Book Club Reads

 Who's in the club? There are ten of us women in our 30s, 40s, and 50s, all married with children. We have varying degrees of education, varying political and social views, and we all homeschool—or have homeschooled—our kids. Here is what we've read so far in our monthly book club, and how we generally reacted to the books.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
General reaction: One of our favorites. Everyone who read it loved it, and we had great discussions.

Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell.
General reaction: two thumbs down. Unless you are a Shakespeare scholar, you'll probably throw this book across the room at some point.

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton.
General reaction: Big hit. We all loved it and had a great discussion.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.
General reaction: "I didn't get to it but I will." This was one of those book club meetings in which fewer than half our members came, and we had very little discussion about the book because only two of us read it who were there. But I think it could be an excellent book for discussion and would definitely recommend it.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.
General reaction: Well liked by those who read it. "One book club member especially enjoyed the steamy sections, although they were few and far between."

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.
General reaction: We loved this one. We wanted to talk about it a lot, wanted to savor the loveliness of this novel. Highly recommended. Great fodder for discussion.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.
General reaction: Two thumbs-up and high fives all around. This is probably the most well-received and discussed book we've ever read in nearly three years of book club. As I say in my review, "I am happy to report that, for perhaps the first time ever, everyone not only read but loved this novel! This is an astonishing accomplishment for this highly opinionated, somewhat diverse group of women."

The Tea-Olive Bird-Watching Society by Augusta Trobaugh.
General reaction: disappointment. We couldn't find much to talk about and didn't particularly like or dislike the book.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
General reaction: loved. Unfortunately I was not present at that book club meeting, but the report was that everyone loved the novel. I certainly did.

One Second After by William Forstchen.
General reaction: Generated lots of good discussion, in spite of the poor writing.

Bloodroot by Amy Greene.
General reaction: An all-time favorite, ranking up there with Caleb's Crossing. As a bonus, several of us got to hear author Amy Greene read at our local college. She was wonderful, as is her debut novel.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.
General reaction: This was our very first book club read, and we read it just because it's fun. It doesn't generate discussion, but it will get people reading!

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
General reaction: "Love it!"  We had so much fun with this book. We were chosen to be in William Morrow's book-to-movie club for this one, so we had a blast with the whole thing. And we all loved the book way more than the movie.


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.
General reaction: Raised lots of questions and was great for discussion.

You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark.
General reaction: a disaster. As I say in my review, "I apologized profusely to my book club for having it on my list. There was absolutely nothing funny about it. It was embarrassing, actually."

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maarten Troost.
General reaction: mixed. "Four of us actually finished and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Two gave it up around Chapter 11, as the topic just did not appeal to them at all. The other four members just didn't have time to finish reading it, and two out of the four said they would for sure finish reading it, even though our meeting was over. So in all, over half our members really liked the book."

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.
General reaction: Hilarious. Great for in-between more serious reads.

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
General reaction: I wasn't there for this discussion, but I think it was mixed. Reading religious groups in a diverse group can go either way—it can lead to great discussion or it can be divisive.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.
General reaction: This search for happiness travelogue was fantastic for discussion.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
General reaction:  So-so. I tried reading this one before and pretty much threw it across the room. I think some people really liked it, but I don't think there was much discussion. We are mostly hikers who live near the Appalachian Trail, so our view is skewed.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
General reaction: "Please never make us read anything like this again." I don't think any of us came close to finishing it, including the member who suggested it.

Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon
General reaction: "Loved this." We were nearly all mesmerized and loved it wholeheartedly.

Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
General reaction: "Fascinating." We loved this story of Oak Ridge during WW2, and the discussion guide had really fantastic questions about war and ethics.

Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
General reaction: "Amazing story." We loved this story of John and Martha Beck, Harvard students who are shocked to discover their baby has Down Syndrome.

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